LETTING IT BREATHE

  • 'An older wine in need of decanting will be delicately pulled from the rack in the cellar, placed in a cradle to minimize movement, and brought to the dining room, where it is presented to the host of the table. Once the host has confirmed it's the correct bottle, the sommelier brings it to the credenza just as a normal bottle of wine would be treated. In a ritual of drama and elegance, the sommelier lights a candle to illuminate the bottle so that the thin layers of wine can be seen as it's poured slowly into a decanter. If properly done, the sediment in the bottle will not spill into the decanter. Guests often marvel at the sommelier's precision and concentration. Once the bottle is emptied into the decanter, it is placed on the credenza, it's label facing the guests. The sommelier samples the decanted wine. If it meets his or her standards, the sommelier approaches the table and pours the host a sample, and service proceeds from there.' ~Edmund O. Lawler in "Lessons in Wine Service from Charlie Trotter"

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aez

“It made me think - for the umpteenth time, 'Why is it that outside of a number of major US cities, we can't seem to figure out how to move people from place to place without using cars?' “

I wonder if the cities that successfully employ public transportation are the ones with older designs and systems, where there was substantial infrastructure on this order before cars were affordable by a greater number of people? (I think St. Louis, where I happily depended on buses and trains for my to-work-and-back transportation, may fall into this category.) It is certainly harder to build the habit of choosing train/bus alternatives once the population in the area is used to using private vehicles for traffic.

This is likely less due to radical individualism, however, than to habits and the human tendency to go with what you’re used to. This is unfortunately less adrenalizing than the “Lack of sidewalks means classism/racism” approach, but when you’re dealing with people who need to get from place to place on a schedule for the sake of work and their families, down-to-earth works better for planning purposes. If we were to do civic planning on the basis of potential conference paper topics, we’d…we'd...God in heaven, it’s too awful to contemplate. (Oh, I wish I hadn’t thought of that…it may, in fact, be what we’ve been doing as a nation for well over half a century.)

I think the Dallas area may have partly succeeded in converting the practices of some of its people—I have friends there who routinely refer to what line of DART they take, comparable in economic status, expectations, and viable alternatives. It has taken decades, so that is an expensive build, and you have to pass a threshold of availability before it looks like it’ll work—families are overall pretty closely scheduled, and people will make choices based on convenience (this is human) and minimizing disruption (also human). Planning for years of losses is a hard sell even if you believe fully in your budget lines.

I will have to leave questioning what you really mean by “radical individualism” for another day. Make sure you are doing a thorough accounting of possible causes--that would be my advice.

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